When Emergency Becomes Everyday Life: Revisiting a Central EiE Concept in the Context of the War on Drugs

Though “emergency” is a key concept in the field of education in emergencies, scholars and practitioners have long been ambivalent about this term and what conditions it can refer to. In this article, drawing from the work of anthropologist Janet Roitman, I critically revisit the concepts of emergency and crisis, and propose that understanding emergency primarily as a moment of shock or the unexpected event obscures how seemingly normal conditions may produce their own impasses. Rather than being characterized by a consensus of meaning, crises entail narrative constructions that create new temporalities and frame certain questions and responses as possible, others as not. In this article, I juxtapose two narrative constructions of crisis in popular culture to explore how narrative constructions of the war on drugs can produce jarringly different accounts of the crises they are said to represent. I suggest that explicitly attending to the underlying politics of crisis narration—though possibly complicating emergency response—is vital to naming and resolving possible ethical blind spots and impasses in the field of education in emergencies.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.33682/m63m-e975 (English) https://doi.org/10.33682/fpcp-4vv1 (Spanish)

The author discusses their work in the Behind the Pages podcast episode embedded below:

Resource Info

Resource Type

Journal Article


Published by

Journal on Education in Emergencies (JEiE)

Authored by

Roozbeh Shirazi


Humanitarian Sectors - Education